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Wednesday, 22 May 2019 12:52 am

Mana Wāhine celebrate 125 years of getting vote


A group of young women officially launch Suffrage 125

It’s been 125 years since women won the right to vote in New Zealand, and yet women are still sexually harassed and paid less.

Mana Wāhine gathered at Government House today to launch Suffrage 125, a commemoration of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, but speakers reminded the crowd about issues yet to be solved.

Dame Patsy addresses the guests

The Suffrage 125 launch was hosted by the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy.

The guest list included Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter, 2017 Young New Zealander of the Year Rez Gardi and British High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke.

Dame Patsy said New Zealand led the world.

“One small country at the bottom of the world had legislated to give women the same rights as men in choosing who would represent them in Parliament,”

“By enfranchising women, New Zealand laid the foundation for the gender equality we experience today, it also spurred on the suffrage movements around the world.”

A group of young, diverse women, including Rez Gardi, officially launched Suffrage 125.

Suffrage 125 includes a multitude of events celebrating women across the country until November 28, the 125th anniversary of the first national election women could vote in.

Despite the focus of the event being largely positive and focused on the accomplishment of the suffragists who fought for our right to vote, the gender disparity that still exists was raised by most speakers.

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, Suffrage 125 has been launched in the wake of the recent Russel McVeagh sexual harassment scandal.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter says she thinks the biggest issue facing women in still the gender pay gap.

“Particularly for Māori and Pacific women who have the worse pay gap of all,”

“But it’s closely followed by sexual harassment and domestic and sexual violence.”

“We need to bring it out into the light, and it’s our responsibility as a government to protect those who have been victims of sexual harassment and empower them to speak up.”

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